Saturday, June 4, 2011

Back from Victoria & Fired-Up! annual exhibition

Brian and I arrived back Tuesday May 31st on the WestJet red-eye from Victoria where we had been since Wednesday May 25th attending and participating in the 27th annual Fired-Up exhibition at the Metchoisin hall. It was an extraordinary time. This year's exhibition was titled "Axis of Art", a phase I coined  to describe the relationship between Creator-Connector-Collector.

It was the first time the gallery has traveled out of London to exhibit and it was the first time that Fired-Up had invited a gallery to participate in their annual exhibition. It was also the first time that Fired-Up had allowed work by artists from outside of BC to participate. Brian and I brought a selection of work from across Canada. We would have loved to have brought examples from all the artists we represent but it wouldn't have been practical. Our goal was to provide a taste of what is available in London, Ontario and to promote our upcoming event "Matter of Clay III" August 4- Sept 2. Matter of Clay is held every five years and this year the number of artists participating is over 100. More about that later as I really want to let you know about our BC Fired-Up! experience. In short: It was amazing!!!

If you don't know who the Fired-Up! members are then check out their website There are eleven core members: Marlene Bowman, Pat Webber, Alan Burgess, Glenys Marshall-Inman Gordon Hutchens, Meg Burgess, Cathi Jefferson, Susan Delatour Lepoidevin, Gary Merkel, Meira Mathison, and Kinichi Shigeno. They are awesome! They are a group bound by quality and a desire to educate. Their work runs the gamut from functional to wildly abstracted. I believe that as a group they may be unique in Canada. Certainly it is the only group that i represent in its' entirety.

As a departure from their normal event schedule the exhibition opened on Thursday evening and attendance was strong right up to the exhibition closing on Sunday at 4 PM. A wonderful article by Times Colonist art critic Robert Amos certainly was a factor in drawing in the crowds. you can read his article at .

I also had the pleasure of meeting Robert Amos. He is an artist in his own right who has been creating a visual record  of Victoria over the years. Robert has also published a book featuring artists' studios and though Walter Dexter RCA was not an artist featured in his book "Artists in Their Studios" he did photograph Walter's studios both in Metchoisin and in Victoria. You should check it out at I am looking forward to getting to know Robert better as it is always a pleasure to meet some one with a passion and Robert certainly has a passion for Victoria and the art of Vancouver Island. Speaking of people and passion I also got to meet Diane Carr. Diane ran a gallery in Victoria in the seventies.called The Potter's Wheel. It was fascinating hearing from her stories about the fine craft scene in Victoria as it is always fascinating to hear from people who harbour a passion.

Brian Cooke, the gallery curator, manager and without whom I would be lost, arranged a selection of work from across Canada. It was not as extensive as we would have liked but time and space create limits within which we had to work. Brian's passion for the work of Goyer-Bonneau of Quebec was full exposed by the enthusiasm he showed describing and selling the re-issue of 'Pea-Soup' a tureen first designed in 1979 and reissued this year in a limited edition of 40. Brian sold six in Victoria bringing to 31 the number currently spoken for. There are 4 left at $2,000 before they jump to $2,500. It is truly a Canadian Classic and if you are interested in getting one please act soon! It took us eight years to get Alain and Denise to agree to reissue it and we have sold 31 since May 2!

A trip to Victoria without seeing Walter Dexter would be incomplete. It was wonderful seeing Walter and of course now that I am writing a book on Walter it was particularly important that we connect. I came a way with some wonderful ephemera that will help in finishing off the book. the soft launch of  "DEXTER - studio artist" is slated to coincide with the opening of "Matter of Clay III" August 4th. The Ronald Frye publishing house in Toronto will be handling the publication and the passion of Sebastian Frye will ensure a quality book

As I said "Fired-Up!'s 27th annual exhibition was amazing. My theory 'Axis of Art' certainly had a baptism by fire and came through stronger than ever. The truth of the matter is we got to put to test the concept in ways that I had not imagined possible. The nuances of the Axis of Art definitely deserve a good bottle of wine to enhance the experience.

Here it is Saturday afternoon and Susan MacAlpine-Foshay is probably just getting ready to land in Halifax. Susan, former director of the Mary E Black gallery in Halifax and former gallery owner, graciously gave up two weeks of her time to come to London and run the gallery while Brian and I were away. It was very reassuring being away knowing that the gallery was in her capable hands.

While in Victoria we also got to see Mary Fox from Ladysmith. Mary is a wonderful artist and sculptor and she will be flying out to attend the opening of  "Matter of Clay III" in August. Actually we also bumped into Louise Card and her husband Craig Rogers both are planning to attend and both will be represented in the exhibition.

I probably have a lot more to say but think I had better close off but not before commenting on the wonderful people of the island who attended the exhibition and regaled us with stories of their connections to Fired-Up!, the artists and their work. Remembering that relationships are what make a successful "Axis of Art" it is important to acknowledge all those that came to view and support this year's 27th annual exhibition. Thank you one and all and to all a good day!


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